Before the 1920 East African international boundaries were drawn, a big chunk of what is present-day Kenya was in Uganda. The territory covered most of western Kenya and the Rift Valley up to Naivasha town.
The area around Mt. Elgon and Lake Victoria has produced many great footballers, both Kenyan and Ugandan. Majority of Kenya’s best footballers, both past and present, were either born there, went to school there or trace their roots near Kenya’s western border. Maybe most of the current Harambee Stars players would be playing for the Uganda Cranes had the boundary remained that way. Okay, I’m pushing it but you get the drift, don’t you?
Yes, I know about Dennis Oliech, Macdonald Mariga and his brother Victor Mugubi who play in Europe’s top five leagues and who have written different chapters of history but those are just three gifted individuals. Uganda may not have individuals in those leagues but their football is of higher standards compared to Kenya.
Uganda has won the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup a record thirteen times while Kenya has won it on just six occasions. Both countries have been to the African Cup of Nations five times but Kenya has never gone past the group stages. Even though Uganda last qualified for the AFCON in 1978, they reached the final that year, losing 2-0 to Ghana.
In the latest FIFA ranking, Uganda are placed 84th while Kenya lie almost 40 places below at 118th. The Cranes qualified for the past two editions of the African Nations Championship, a tournament for players based in their home countries, while Kenya has never qualified. This simply means that Uganda has better players in their local leagues so much that they export scores to neighbouring Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, DRC and Rwanda
The Kenyan Premier League Champions Gor Mahia have four ‘Ssebos’ in their squad. These are Godfrey Walusimbi, Geoffrey Kizito, Israel Emuge and the lethal forward Daniel Serunkuma. Gor would probably never have won the league in 2013 without Serunkuma and former Uganda coach Bobby Williamson.
Other Ugandans currently in the KPL include Joseph Kayiira, Lawrance Kasadho, Joel Sebuliba and Jimmy Bagaye of City Stars, Bruno Serunkuma of Bandari, Ivan Anguyo of KRA, Ronnie Kagunzi and Allan Kategera of Nakuru Allstars, Martin Kiiza, Robert Omunuk and Khalid Aucho of Tusker, Musa Mudde of AFC Leopards, Johnson Bagoole, Mustapha Kasolo and Tony Ndolo of Sofapaka who are coincidentally coached by Cranes’ assistant coach Sam Timbe.
Others are Mathare United’s Hussein Zzinda, Sony Sugar’s Bosco Ssemugenyi and Andrew Ssekayombya, Thika United’s Tony Kizito, Chemelil Sugar’s David Nyanzi, KCB’s David Bogere, Western Stima’s Batambuze Shafik and Muhoroni Youth’s Hamidu Kwizera.
There are several others, the list is endless, I don’t even have enough space for all of them. From the above list, you can see that all top flight clubs, including the recently promoted, have at least one Ugandan except Ulinzi Stars who do not sign foreign players.
With the recently introduced 6+5 rule, clubs will sign more Ugandans and soon it will not be surprising to see a team starting a match with five Ugandans. There are two parallel leagues in Uganda, do we plan to create a third one for them here? We want our league to be competitive but this trend will harm our national team like what is happening to England or South Africa. Someone please return Museveni’s cows.